Rugby Championship

All Blacks look for fast start against France

2018-06-15 08:57
Sam Whitelock (Getty)

Wellington - The All Blacks are focused on an improved start in the second Test against France in Wellington on Saturday, as they trial their World Cup strategies. 

Kick-off is at 09:35 SA time.

The defending world champions have given themselves little time to perfect a new style of play with only about a dozen Tests before the World Cup begins in Japan next year. 

Although they blitzed France 52-11 in the first Test, the damage was done with 44 unanswered points in the second half after the hosts turned at 11-8 down. 

"If you look at the first 50 minutes there were some pretty big collisions and we didn't get out of it what we wanted so the key area we want to improve is the start," captain Sam Whitelock said on Friday. 

"If we go out there and start well, play really well, hopefully it will give ourselves an opportunity to have a complete performance rather than waiting for later in the game like we did last week." 

Like New Zealand, France are also using the series to lay the foundations for their Japan 2019 campaign, with coach Jacques Brunel describing this three-Test tour as "the building site". 

But while the All Blacks are able to concentrate on their World Cup blueprint, France are playing catch-up as they strive to avoid a series defeat. 

Albeit aided by a yellow card, the All Blacks moved to a much higher level than the Les Bleus could cope with when they scored seven tries in the closing 27 minutes in Auckland. 

With the All Blacks eyeing an unprecedented third successive world crown, timing is everything for coach Steve Hansen who will be unveiling his plans bit by bit. 

While he needs his entire squad to be comfortable with what he requires, he also does not want to give his rivals too much time to work out counter measures. 

"You'd be foolish to think you're going to see everything in five minutes because it's about learning how to deal with it first and then dealing with it under pressure, secondly," he said. 

"We're probably at the stage of just getting used to being in the right places and trying to see the right things, and out of 10 times you might see the right things three times and that's what we've got to grow." 

Hansen sees no sense in keeping his plans under wraps, saying they need to be tested before the World Cup and that he doubts rival coaches will perfect counter-measures over the next 15 months. 

"Eventually, as we get into it, people will start to see what we're doing and they'll start to think that they've got the answers," Hansen said. 

"But they've got to learn the answers too, just like we're having to learn to play the different things we want to play." 

Nine years back, 2009 was grim for the All Blacks at home when they lost twice - to France and South Africa. 

But no national team has beaten or drawn with the All Blacks on New Zealand soil since, with their only loss in 53 Tests being to the British and Irish Lions in Wellington last year. 

It was also in Wellington, 11 years ago, that France crashed to their heaviest defeat when beaten by the All Blacks 61-10. 

A few months later they knocked the All Blacks out of the World Cup quarter-finals with a heroic 20-18 victory in Cardiff.

Teams:

New Zealand

15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock (captain), 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody

Substitutes: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Vaea Fifita, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Ngani Laumape

France

15 Benjamin Fall, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud (captain), 12 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 11 Gael Fickou, 10 Anthony Belleau, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Kelian Gourdon, 7 Kélian Galletier, 6 Mathieu Babillot, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Bernard le Roux, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Camille Chat, 1 Dany Priso

Substitutes: 16 Pierre Bourgarit, 17 Cyril Baille, 18 Cedate Gomes Sa, 19 Paul Gabrillagues, 20 Alexandre Lapandry, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Jules Plisson, 23 Maxime Médard

Read more on:    france  |  all blacks  |  sam whitelock  |  rugby
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